By Mustafa Deveci
The recent death of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja while covering ongoing rallies on the Gaza-Israel border has shown -- once again -- the risks Palestinian reporters face while plying their trade.
Murtaja, 30, was shot in the abdomen by Israeli troops last Friday while covering the border rallies in Gaza. He succumbed to his injury the following day and his funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners.
Murtaja was targeted by Israeli forces despite the fact that he wore a helmet and vest on which the word “Press” was clearly emblazoned.
Israel has a long history of targeting journalists. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have documented 17 confirmed instances of journalists killed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1992. Of these, 15 journalists have been killed by Israeli fire.
The year 2014, when Israel carried out its last major onslaught against blockaded Gaza in which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, was the bloodiest year for journalists in Palestine.
According to the Paris-based Reporters without Borders, 12 journalists -- including one foreigner -- were killed by the Israeli army during the conflict.
Israeli authorities also later admitted to intentionally targeting the Al-Aqsa network, a Gaza-based television channel known for its links to Hamas.
According to UN figures, 16 Palestinian journalists were rendered homeless amid the carnage in 2014 while the offices of eight local media outlets were reduced to rubble.
Meanwhile, 28 Palestinian journalists are currently languishing in Israeli prisons (many of whom have yet to face trial), according to a report by the Palestinian Journalist Support Committee, an NGO.
Rights groups and NGOs, for their part, say there is little hope of improvement in the short term.
According to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Israel committed at least 740 violations against Palestinian journalists -- in both the West Bank and Gaza -- last year alone.
These violations reportedly included arbitrary arrest, injury with live ammunition, beatings, and the closure of local media outlets.
Palestine’s official WAFA news agency reported recently that Israeli forces had committed abuses against Palestinian journalists 28 times last month.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.